My father who is 87 years old, has Parkinson’s Disease and some degree of cognitive decline has been living with me, my husband and son for about 5 months now. Prior to his move here, he was living with his common law wife of 13 years. He often called me or one of my sisters begging us to come and get him because “she’s killing me”. My husband and I drove out to get him twice and both times he refused to go. I flew out to visit every two months before he came to us. When I visited I sometimes saw behaviours that were concerning to me. My father rarely left the bedroom then and was often quite anxiety ridden (hence the calls to us, I guess). I remember on one particular occasion, my father coming out of his room in a very anxious agitated state. My father’s common law wife told him to go back to bed. He did. I asked her what are we going to do and her response was “I think he’s going to drive himself crazy”. I was concerned. My sisters and I were told by his common law wife that he was being evaluated. She felt he was not doing well mentally. I asked about the results but was told Dad was forgetful but “as expected for someone with his stage of Parkinson’s Disease”.

I should have pushed harder for details, I know. Other things would occur that to me were not appropriate, but were explained away by Dads CL wife. She wouldn’t bring his meds to him for example; she said he needed to do things for himself. I tried to be understanding, after all he does need to do what he can do for himself. Over time, Dad's state of mind was very depressed and anxious every time I visited and he had begun calling my other sisters asking them to come and get him. Eventually my sisters arranged to go and pick him up, at his request. They called me a couple days before to tell me he was coming. To be honest, I didn’t think he would come, but amazingly he did.

Since Dad has lived here he has gone from constant demands to go to the ER or call 911, anxious demands for extra meds (which he didn’t get), from a person that bore no resemblance to my Dad to someone who is much more peaceful. My Dad has been slowly re-emerging. Dad has maintained constant contact with his CL wife since he’s been here and I’ve been providing her with regular updates and pictures. He loves her and I want to respect that, but she also is very upset with my sisters and I for what she sees as conspiring to take my Dad away from her.

She’s coming to visit soon staying for a week and she and my Dad have suggested that I take her visit as an opportunity to go visit my sisters out of town. It seems like a nice offer on the face of it. My Dad though has an appointment during her visit so I asked if his CL wife will take him and attend the appointment with him? He asked me not to leave until after the appointment. I don’t know what to think. I feel like crying constantly the last few days. I’m not sure if it’s reasonable but I feel angry with my Dad too. Any input would be wonderful. Thank you.

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Hmm I don’t think I’d leave him alone with the GF. If he wants you to attend the appointment, he may be having some misgivings about the visit as well. She may set him back emotionally without your presence. Maybe I’m just cynical but she may even conspire to take him back to her home?
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Bornagain Nov 2018
I agree with the previous answer.
Your instincts are clearly crying out to you that dad’s care under his CL wife hasn’t been what he needs or requires at this point in his life. Out of your sense of kindness and respect you’ve been trying to make excuses or see it for better than what it is, that’s human nature. We all want to see the best in others and you’d think after their years together she’d be giving him the best. But all signs point to his care suffering with her. And naturally he’s conflicted, both protective and wary of her. Realizing you’re walking on eggshells here, know that you’re priority here is dad’s care, not soothing her feelings. Time to ensure all the needed documents like POA and his medical wishes are in order, as well as a solid plan for his continuing care which can’t be under a woman he’s done so poorly with. Respect their relationship yes, but though her feelings may be hurt time to look out for dad. She didn’t
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I agree, I wouldn't leave them alone. Sounds to me she was not giving him needed meds or she was giving him something he shouldn't have been getting. Did you have him checked out when he moved in. Especially blood and urine tests?

Is Common Law legal in his state? If so, does she have paperwork showing she is his wife. Just living together doesn't make it so.

If she visits, I'd make sure someone was with them all the time. If she causes problems, ask her to leave. Really, I wouldn't feel comfortable with a stranger in my house and I wouldn't allow her the run of my house.
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First of all you can't make Dad do anything unless he has been declared legally incompetent.
From what you have written it sounds as though his cognition may be a lot worse than you had previously realized.
Can't begin to assess CL's motives but assume she really can't be young especially as they have been together so long.
Does dad own the house they were living in?
Someone certainly needs to be supervising medications and finances.
Agree that I would not leave the pair of them alone in the house for a week.
I would however give them some private time together. Tell them you are going to X and will be home at Y and if he needs anything you have your cell.
And keep your word so they really do have some privacy.
Remove all drugs his and your families to an out of the way locked cupboard. I would also do the same with any liquor.
When you visited did you feel CL was taking good care of their living conditions. House clean, lawn mowed etc dog poop picked up that kind of thing. Food in the fridge?
Last but most importantly make sure dad gets a full physical and psychiatric evaluation.
It is going to be a rough few weeks but I am sure this will all get sorted out.
Helpful Answer (11)
anonymous806474 Nov 2018
Can you please stop going on about the wifes ulterior motives and just have a discussion...……...meaning Parkinsons is a chronic condition..does everybody know about cognitive decline etcetera..can wife manage?
Who has POA, is there money for an NH or caretakers ?prepare to decide and ask if wife can handle this...I visited my Dad in NH everyday after his caretaker passed and he had to be admitted only to gasp at the prices
even after some Medicaid kicked in..they only covered three mos of five
leaving me to pay for the first well as taking DAds 1800 per mo.
anyway there was a Parkinsons Patient there that I got to know he was only 65 years old and simply told me his wife could not would not take
care of him in their home....he was a danger to himself, he was not happy
about it but knew his wife needed or wanted to he then told me he had been advised to put his house in a trust...…...I guess so the wife would have something or NH I simply do not know but rather than
complain about wife or common law you should have a discussion as to
who is now
going to supervise or take care of Dad???If wife is overwhelmed or you are not prepared to take him or yo will take him until he becomes too incapacitated...……………… well I dont know how to know the deal...………...assets social etc wife is protected to some extent but she needs a roof over her head...does she have money or family or a decent social?
A week may be too long a visit for someone who has been accused by Dad of:
"She's killing me", and repeated calls to come get him.

Now, she AND your Dad are making suggestions you leave your home on vacation.
Will leaving include your son? Hubs? Have you had this kind of relationship as the grandparents prior to Dad coming to stay with you? With them staying at your home while you (and family?) go away? In the same breath, Dad asks you not to leave?
Red flags:
Anyone who tells an adult to go back to your room/bed, when you are visiting?
Who appears to have undue influence on your Dad?
Who accuses others of "conspiracy".
Is angry at you that he left......
Can you ask advice from APS, if you have concerns that she may be an inappropriate caregiver? Your Dad is a vulnerable adult with his diagnosis.
Please ask Dad to NOT sign anything she gives him to sign without consulting you or an attorney, his attorney.
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anonymous815183 Nov 2018
Given his condition, Dad probably will sign anything he's asked to by someone who can sweet talk him and under the right conditions of daylight, his mood, and whatever he's told by someone he trusts at that moment. You will never know the facts of the matter until it's too late to do anything about it. I know someone who is convinced he has control of his own finances, while also knowing he does not. And I'm not a family member so have no standing to help him.
Your own negative and resentful un-peaceful attitude about someone your father loves and who loves him, no matter how upset she is now, seems to be a long - standing problem, given that he lives an airplane ride away from you, but you seem to understand this is not going well at all, but that's not un-natural. It's a stressful situation for everyone.
She is frustrated and inexperienced in this journey and might not have the best personality for it, but your animosity must stick out enough to make you look like a porcupine to this woman your father loves. What did you expect from her? Hugs and kisses?

Since this woman he loves knows your attitude toward her, I'm not surprised your visits there went "badly." Of course he was "depressed and anxious" when you visited--he hasn't totally "lost it" yet and he knows his own daughter.
If you were to change your attitude and look at this woman as a partner in caring for your father--instead of "that woman"--maybe the two of you could co-operate and help him instead of inducing fear in a demented old man.
It's good that he is doing better with you. Not surprising, since you have backup staff of husband and sisters. His partner could well have no one to support and help her. From experience, I can guarantee you would have NO life of your own if you were doing this without help. It's good that he is doing better with you, but try to get a bigger picture of all this, for his welfare.

I agree with others that you should not grab this opportunity for a weeklong holiday for your and your husband (IF she is up to no good, you want to guard the silver service and keep her out of your private papers) but stay in your own home, make his partner feel welcome, give them time alone together, and try to bind old wounds and do what is good for your father, by offering kindness to his partner, who, I can promise you, has her own problems and worries now that her life w/ dad is wreckage. Is there anyone interested in what lies ahead for her? Does she wonder where she will live w/o him? Are there financial issues that terrify her? Does she have any family support? Has she spend her own finances into the basement by paying for things he has needed? A discussion about all this, in a kind, instead of angry way, might well help all of you. But don't go into this with an attitude or it will just turn nasty.
I wouldn't leave them alone in my home.... my suspicious mind?
Helpful Answer (10)

This is a tough situation. If they've been together for 13 years that's a lot of time to build emotional connections, co-mingle assets etc. It also means you should know her pretty well. She didn't pitch him out when he was diagnosed with Parkinsons that demonstrates that she, at the least, had a dedication to caring for him. Such loyalty is pretty rare right now. Care-giving is not for everyone and after five months of it I'm sure you realize how demanding it can be. She's likely doing the best she can with a bad situation and sometimes the best we can just isn't good enough.

Maybe the doctor encouraged her not to "coddle him" and that's why she was making him take care of himself. Maybe she's hoping he will "get better" if he's more actively handling his own business. Remember, she's slowly losing the man she has loved for the past thirteen years. The fella who for all intents and purposes has been her husband is slowly slipping away and now has physically left their home. I say that to remind you that she's probably grieving a dual loss.

It's been my experience with cognititve decline that a good deal of those living with it tend to villainize their primary care-giver. You might want to keep that in the back of your mind. If he is doing that with accusations of "trying to kill him" against her then, you might be next on his list of people to accuse of things.

If they've been together for 13 years you should have a pretty good idea of her personality, so you would be the best judge of whether or not she might be abusing or neglecting him. If she has always been a wonderful caring person then leaving her in your home while you take a break would be a great idea. You can use a respite now and then. Like others have said treat her as a short term respite carer and don't expect her to handle doctor visits, therapy etc.

If, on the other hand, she has always been sketchy and your relationship was already strained before your father was diagnosed, then don't leave her in your home or leave your father alone with her at all.

I agree with those who said to get your father thoroughly checked out before deciding anything. If his cognitive impairment is significant he can't be making this choice alone. If on the other hand he is mentally sound then you have no business telling him what to do or not do and in that case only need to decide what you will allow in your home.

Bless you, I know how hard this can be. I've seen this situation in similar forms many times and it's hard on everyone involved. Do take care of yourself. Take care of you. :)
Helpful Answer (10)
sudalu Nov 2018
Well said. Great advice.
Never ignore what you gut tells you.
If you feel uneasy about this lady don’t leave your dad nor your house in her hands. Personally, I would not chose the time when she is there to leave town.
Keep in mind that although it will take more effort on your part to be able to show respect for their relationship while never putting in the back burner your natural need to care for your dad, it is worth it. Your dad’s well-being comes first. Your peace of mind as a daughter also comes first. The rest can be handled with intelligence but never sacrificing what really matters.

Best of luck!
Helpful Answer (9)

Just FYI...these are the states that recognize common law. If Dad doesn't live in 10 of these states, he isn't married.

Only a few states recognize common law marriages, and each has specific stipulations as to what relationships are included:
District of Columbia
Georgia (if created before 1/1/97)
Idaho (if created before 1/1/96)
New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98. Oklahoma’s laws and court decisions may be in conflict about whether common law marriages formed in that state after 11/1/98 will be recognized.)
Pennsylvania (if created before 1/1/05)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Helpful Answer (8)

So, I am going to be honest and frank, I apologize in advance if this offends you.

If you witnessed her being abusive to your dad, and yes treating him like a child telling him to go back to bed when his daughter is visiting is abuse!

If she would do that in front of you, what does she do when no one is watching?

You don't say how old she is and another poster said she couldn't be that young, they have been together that long, yes she can be that young, he is 87 so 13 years isn't all that long, my dad married a thing that was younger then his youngest daughter and they were together for 20 years.

Have you ever heard of Stockholm syndrome? If not you should do some research. The evil whore my dad married was so abusive and he was to PW that he alienated his entire support system, friends and family alike because of her. When she didn't get her way, it was everyone else that was the problem, she was the loving concerned wifey poo who had his back, bull she had a gun in his back that he knew if he crossed her there was hell to pay. I to got the mystery calls for help only to waste my time when it had all changed by the time I could get there.

She should not be welcomed, let alone left in your house alone. You would not believe the petty damage done to my home when I allowed my dad thing to visit, I was here and she still damaged a bed, let her dog pee on it, ruined my guest towels, used them to polish her boots, then her dog peed on my 4 month old carpet 6 times, never offered to clean it, then the dog barfed in the hallway and she used toilet paper to clean it up to help me out, in her words.

Can you imagine what she could accomplish if she had free rein?

Are you sure he wants the visit or has she pressured him into it?
You see how well he is doing without her, do you want a set back? What if she loads him up and takes him home? What if there is an accident and he ends up dead?

I am not being an alarmist, when I picked my dad up from his situation he was within days of being dead. He was in active heart failure, he had 70# of water weight, his kidneys were shutting down and the toxins from all of this had effected his brain to the point that I was told he needed memory care.

She told you what she was, believe her!

When people have never dealt with evil it is easy to say, oh look she stayed, she's his loving wife and he loves her, you need to accept it and get over all the years of upset, rose colored glasses are great until you look at the devil. Men that have made choices that end them in abusive relationships will 99.9% of the time never admit anything, they will hint and imply but their egos will not allow them to admit that they ended up with an evil, abusive hateful beast. It is shameful and anyone that has ever been there, knows that there is shame in letting yourself get in that situation.

He is telling you that he wants you to intervene by asking you to stay for the appointment. Right now you can't take anything he says at face value, it is still early in the separation and she still has her hooks in him. It took my dad 18 months with no contact to feel safe enough to say she was abusive. We all knew and saw many warning signs but while he was in it, there was no helping him.

From what you have written I think you would be negligent in leaving him alone with her. I don't agree that they need or deserve privacy. It is your house and he is thriving under your care, she can change everything with one private conversation. If they are alone she can exert as much force as she needs to, to get him to bend to her wishes. If you are there you can stop that from happening. As hard as it is, your dad is a vulnerable senior and needs protection just like you would a 3 year old, wanting and getting are two different things.

You know how the last 13 years have been, you know if your dad has changed since his relationship with her and only you can decide if he is safe with her alone. (Continued)
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anonymous806474 Nov 2018
Many people bail out when the slow decline,mental,healthoverwhelming issues begin.....its very complicated how you will fare with deciding when Husband has to go to a NH...and wife will loose home,money etc. im sure Dad has made sure wife will be ok...but well being and being held by wifey like a prisoner in his own home may be going on as wifey did not bargain for when sickness and health would be a problem anyway no one can take care of a Parkinson situation ...its dangerous on the caretaker wife and abusive to husband being told to go to his room like an unruly child...get in there and deal with the inevitable.THIS IS A SECOND MARRIAGE. IASSUME...…….sounds like any person that cant handle the situation...
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